U of M contributes $7.3 billion to Manitoba’s economy

Study: U of M spending, research, graduate income comprises nine per cent of GDP

The University of Manitoba is estimated to have contributed $7.3 billion to Manitoba’s economy in the 2022-23 fiscal year — nine per cent of the province’s GDP — according to an economic impact study commissioned by the university.

In 2022-23, the school generated approximately $1.2 billion in direct spending, which, combined with additional add-on spending of nearly $585 million, amounts to a direct annual economic contribution estimated at almost $1.8 billion. The figure of $7.3 billion includes the impacts of the university’s research output and the alumni education premium — a measurement of how much more those with a degree earn than those without.

U of M president and vice-chancellor Michael Benarroch noted that the previous economic impact study, conducted in 2019, used a different methodology which only examined the direct impact of one year of post-secondary spending, rather than the “dynamic impacts” measured by the more recent study.

Benarroch said the study’s goal was to broaden the prior study, and ask, “Over time, what’s the impact of our graduates? And what’s the impact of the university on how the province evolves? And can we pick up some economic impacts that aren’t picked up in the static measure?”

The university is involved in half of all research and development in Manitoba and the research impact is estimated to be just under $3 billion.

Benarroch pointed out that the university’s research not only generates products, but also provides training to students.

“Our students get a lot of training in labs,” he said. 

“They get training on how to do research in their fields, and it’s hands-on research,” he said.

“It’s something that’s practical, that then when they go into the workforce, they could use.”

Benarroch also noted that the economic impact of research is not seen immediately.

“It doesn’t happen in one year, but over time, the impact accumulates and grows and has a very large impact within the province.”

The report also found that the province receives $4.10 back for every dollar it spends, not including the amount associated with research and the alumni education premium.

Benarroch said the university would use the study to help explain “to different levels of government, to the public, to our own students” the value that the institution brings to the province.

“In addition to the impact of us being an institution that spends a billion dollars, we have these other dynamic impacts which have had a huge positive benefit to Manitoba,” he said.

Benarroch hopes the study can be used to convince the new government to restore spending in areas like post-secondary research and graduates, and “increase it for the whole post-secondary sector.”

Funding for graduate students gets cut “at the peril of the future growth of the province,” he said.

The direct impact of the alumni education premium to Manitoba’s economy was estimated to be $1.75 billion.

According to the report, almost three quarters of UM graduates stay in the province.

“It’s a big part of who we are as a university,” said Benarroch, “most of our graduates stay in Manitoba.”

He said students in Manitoba should “see a really bright future for themselves when they graduate.”

“I think that what they should take from this is that, as graduates of post-secondary institutions, they have the potential to make a really big impact on the economy and on our society,” Benarroch said.